PepsiCo Inc. (PEP - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings Wednesday after recording the fastest pace of organic sales growth in more than three years.

PepsiCo said earnings for the three months ended in March came in at $1 per share, up from 94 cents over the same period in 2018 and well ahead of the Street consensus of 93 cents per share. Group revenues, PepsiCo said, were also ahead of forecast at $12.88 billion and up 2.5% from the same period last year. Organic sales growth, a key figure for earnings potential that separates currency market impacts as well as mergers and acquisitions, rose 5.2% from last year, the company said.

"We are pleased with our results for the first quarter," said CEO Ramon Laguarta. "While adverse foreign exchange translation negatively impacted our reported net revenue performance, our underlying organic revenue growth accelerated to more than 5% in the quarter. Frito-Lay North America and each of our international divisions delivered particularly strong operating performance, and PepsiCo Beverages North America generated sequential quarterly net revenue acceleration."

"We are equally pleased with the progress we are making on our ambitious agenda to invest to build capabilities,strengthen our brands, and add capacity to grow," Laguarta continued. "With our strong start to the year and good momentum on our key priorities, we remain confident in achieving the 2019 financial targets we communicated earlier this year."

PepsiCo shares rose 3.2% to $126.37 in trading Wednesday.

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